Loire Valley - Visit time : 1 week.
The Loire Valley is the largest site ever registered in France as World Heritage site by UNESCO.
The site crosses a multitude of historic towns and villages, rich with architectural heritage and ancient history. It reveals religious buildings and castles, each more sumptuous than the last, cultivated land and wild landscapes exploding with biodiversity. This ensemble, which witnessed thousands of years of interactions between man and nature, is a cultural landscape of exception.
The Loire River is at the heart of this landscape. Indeed, without it, none of this would exist. The largest river in France, and the wildest, it is nicknamed "the Royal River." The Loire Valley was chosen as a royal residence in the 15th and 16th century.
Several days are needed to explore the natural and cultural heritage of these landscapes. Take the time to soak up the history, culture and landscapes, and your stay in the Loire Valley will be unforgettable ...
Covering 800 km2, the Loire Valley is classified on the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites as a living cultural landscape since 2000. At about 280 kilometers long, from Sully-sur-Loire in the Centre region to Chalonnes-sur-Loire in the Pays de la Loire region, the classified site crosses two French regions and four departments.
The classification of the Loire Valley was a prestigious recognition for the river and its history, its architectural and cultural heritage, its natural landscapes and its strong ties that unite the communities living in the the valley. But beyond recognition, the UNESCO classification presented a challenge for preserving the fragile harmonious balance between man and nature.
A stay in the Loire Valley is primarily a rendezvous with nature, untamed along the currents of the river, along its banks or on its islands, and tamed at the heart of its many gardens, sometimes prestigious but always beautiful.
A stay in the Loire Valley is also a historical voyage, whether visiting the medieval and Renaissance castles or the religious heritage and its ancient abbeys. Two thousand years of history have shaped the historical, cultural, religious, military and civilian heritage of the valley.
A stay in the Loire Valley is also the discovery of terroirs and vineyards that dot the banks of the Royal River.
The borders of the World Heritage Site include the Loire River at its center, with its banks and hillsides above. In places where the Loire passes through the communities, the historical center of the city is included in the classified area. Here and there, extensions include certain tributaries of the Loire, allowing castles or religious buildings to be included in the Loire Valley site.
Criteria for selection
Criterion (i): The Loire Valley is noteworthy for the quality of its architectural heritage, in its historic towns such as Blois, Chinon, Orléans, Saumur, and Tours, but in particular in its world-famous castles, such as the Château de Chambord.
Criterion (ii): The Loire Valley is an outstanding cultural landscape along a major river which bears witness to an interchange of human values and to a harmonious development of interactions between human beings and their environment over two millennia.
Criterion (iv): The landscape of the Loire Valley, and more particularly its many cultural monuments, illustrate to an exceptional degree the ideals of the Renaissance and the Age of the Enlightenment on western European thought and design.
Source Unesco / ICOMOS